Former Tar Heel Seager revels in All-Star experience

Jul. 15, 2014 @ 08:14 PM

It’s safe to say that Kyle Seager isn’t holding the snub against anyone.

When the American League All-Star rosters were announced two weeks ago, the Seattle Mariners third baseman and former North Carolina Tar Heel was the consensus pick for biggest snub. Seager was left off the roster, despite his 15 homers at the break, second best among AL third basemen, and 63 RBI, tied for tenth best in the AL.

Seager knew from the outset that there was a good chance the snub would be short-lived, however.

“We had a team meeting,” he said, “and Skip (Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon) told us that Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano were going. Then he said that Fernando Rodney and I were kind of pending.”

“He said to just wait it out,” Seager continued. “Things happen. Just because you don’t make it at the outset doesn’t mean you won’t make it.”

When Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion suffered a leg injury the next day, he was forced to give up his spot on the team. The call went out to the top replacement among A.L. position players, and just like that, Seager was an all-star.

“You work so hard just to get to the big leagues,” Seager said, “and then you work just as hard to establish yourself and to become an everyday player. You come back from injuries and keep working. To get this honor is a reward for all that work.”

In the midst of a whirlwind three days in Minneapolis, Seager’s first All Star experience has wiped away any harsh feelings from the initial snub. “No way,” he said. “I’m not thinking of that at all. It doesn’t matter how you make it. It’s just awesome to be here.”

Awesome, but busy. “I haven’t even been outside yet,” Seager said on Monday afternoon. “We’ve had so many events. My brother (Dodgers prospect Corey Seager) was in the Futures Game here on Sunday. My dad was there and told me about it.”

Seager admitted to being overwhelmed by the experience. “I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “But I just want to get to spend time with all these guys and meet everyone.”

At the top of Seager’s list is a legend who won’t be returning to the game. “I’m excited to get to talk to (Derek) Jeter,” he said. “I grew up a huge Yankee fan. My family’s from New York originally. I can’t wait to be around him for a couple days. I’m waiting for (former Yankee) Cano to make the intros.”

One of the first people to offer Seager congratulations after he was named to the All-Star Game was his former college coach, UNC’s Mike Fox.

“Coach Fox texted me right away after the news came out,” Seager said. “We still stay in close touch.”

“I have so many amazing memories from Carolina,” he continued. “It’s such a great place. Coach Fox has done such a great job with the whole thing — not just building a baseball program, but building lives. He’s been such a huge influence on me.”

“And making it to Omaha three times while I was there didn’t hurt,” he added with a grin.